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Protecting Black Single Mothers At Risk Of Death By Suicide

Written by: Dr. Leslie Davis, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

September is recognized as Suicide Awareness Month in the United States. It’s a sensitive topic that oftentimes isn’t discussed…until it’s too late. Maternal suicide affects mothers of all races and ethnic backgrounds, including Black single mothers. There has been a rise in reported deaths by suicide among Black Americans in recent years, but the experiences of Black single mothers who struggle with depression and suicidal ideation are often silenced by society, placing them at greater risk of harm. It’s time to protect Black single mothers from death by suicide by bringing awareness to their struggles and creating opportunities for connection.

Young sad and depressed woman in bed sleepless late.

Risk Factors for Black Single Mothers


Isolation


It is not uncommon for single mothers to feel alone and disconnected in their experience of single motherhood. Isolation creates an atmosphere for negative thoughts to become more powerful than your truths. The truth is, there is hope and you don’t have to be alone.


Toxic Relationships


Black single moms in toxic relationships are vulnerable to incidents of intimate partner violence (IPV). Experiencing IPV, especially during pregnancy, is an elevated trigger for suicidal ideation. Single moms who struggle in toxic relationships may find themselves isolated by their partner or by their own decision to hide their relationship due to embarrassment, fear, or shame.


Persistent struggles with depression, including postpartum depression


Experiencing depressive symptoms over long periods of time can amplify thoughts of suicide. These symptoms can include changes in sleeping patterns (not sleeping or sleeping too much), intrusive thoughts, inability to concentrate on daily tasks, lack of energy, feeling worthless, or having poor self-esteem. Experiencing symptoms of depression during the postpartum period can be exhausting and seem unbearable, triggering a desire to escape.


Protective factors for Black single mothers


Being a Single Mom

The role of a single mom typically places a woman in the position of being the sole provider for her child. It’s a tremendous amount of pressure, potentially causing stress, anxiety, and depression. But being a single mom also creates a sense of connection for the single mom to her child. Knowing that her child won’t survive without her gives her reason to live.


Healthy relationships


Black single mothers are less likely than single mothers of other races to engage in therapeutic interventions, but those who have healthy relationships with friends and family are more likely to share their truth regarding their emotional and mental struggles. It is also likely that their loved ones will notice a change in their behavior or moods indicating signs of depression, which may result in prompting and supporting the Black single mother to seek help.


Social Supports


Black single moms who are part of a group have more opportunities to engage in healthy connections. She may participate in community or spiritual groups which build strong connections outside of her family. Community connections can provide a safe space for her to be transparent with someone she trusts.


If you are a Black single mom at risk for suicide, here are actions to take to protect yourself…


Stop being afraid or ashamed to be transparent about your thoughts and feelings.


Call 988 to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


Seek professional help from a licensed professional counselor. (Ask your company of how you can access EAP services to connect with a therapist.)


Connect yourself to a support system (friends, family, community).


If you are a loved one of a Black single mother at risk of suicide, don’t be afraid to ask her if she has had suicidal thoughts. This question does not place the thought in her head, rather asking the question can open the door for connection, which is exactly what she needs.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Dr. Leslie Davis, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Leslie Davis is a licensed counselor, relationship coach, mental health consultant, and podcaster. Using an Emotion-Focused approach, she empowers women and youth with tools to develop healthy connections. Her work with clients focuses on attachment styles, self-esteem, and empowering women to cope with anxiety and depression. As the Founder and Executive Director of Hearts in Faith, NFP Dr. Davis also brings awareness and addresses the needs of single mothers, single fathers, and youth in her community. You can find her podcast, She Matters with Leslie Davis, on various platforms including Apple and Spotify.

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